Title: In the Dark (Part 14)
Link to Part 13
Link to Part 15
Shigure was still sitting on the side of the futon, holding Aaya’s hand between his palms when Yuki carried the tray in.
“I brought breakfast,” he said uncomfortably, holding the tray up slightly.
“Thank you,” Ayame said, looking equally uncomfortable, his eyes dropping to the side.
Shigure sighed, and shook his head slightly; the two of them were hopeless, really.
“Come on, you need to sit up,” he said to Ayame, gently pulling Ayame up, and propping the pillows against the wall at the head of the futon, leaning the snake back against them.
Ayame kept his head down as Yuki came over and set the tray in his lap, not meeting his younger brother’s eyes.
“I…I need to talk to him, Shigure-san,” Yuki said shifting on his feet edgily.
“Aaya,” Shigure said, grasping one thin wrist lightly until the golden eyes reluctantly came up to meet his.
“Yuki-kun needs to talk to you, after you’ve eaten your breakfast, so he’s going to stay with you while you eat. I’ll be in the living room, ok?”
“Gure…” the snake looked almost panic stricken at the idea.
“It’s all right, he really does want to talk to you, I promise,” Shigure said.
The dog stood up and shot Yuki a clear warning look as he passed him, heading out of the room. Yuki didn’t need any translation for that look, ‘don’t upset him’ was loud and clear.
Ayame took the oxygen mask off, and slowly began to eat the cereal he had been given, still not looking at his younger brother. Yuki sat down beside the bed and hesitantly reached out to rest a hand on one thin shoulder. Ayame looked at him, shocked, and Yuki forced a smile.
“It’s going to be all right, ‘nii-san,” he said.
Ayame half smiled in response, and turned his attention back to the tray on his lap. Yuki sat back, still trying to figure out what he was going to say to him, he knew he had to let go of his bitterness about the past now, and figure out some way they could get on, going forward from here, and he needed to convey that to Ayame without upsetting him.
When Ayame was done eating, Yuki set the tray aside and pointedly handed him the oxygen mask back. Ayame sighed and put it on, looking at his little brother with a mix of hope and nerves in his eyes.
“What…what did you want to talk to me about?” Ayame asked, his voice tentative, subdued, under the muffling of the mask.
“I…I don’t know, really ‘nii-san. I want to…I want us to get along better,” he said haltingly.
“I would like that, I...I don’t know if I can change enough…”
“I don’t want you to change that much, just, calm down a little, maybe,” he said.
“I’ll try my best,” he said, looking more hopeful now.
“Good, so if we both try our best, then maybe we can put all the bad stuff behind us, and move on from here. You try to calm down a little around me, and I’ll try to stop holding the past against you,” he nodded.
Ayame’s head dropped back against the pillows, his eyes drifting shut for a beat before he forced them open again.
“Sorry,” he said, porcelain cheeks flushing with embarrassment.
“It’s all right; Hatori-san said you needed to rest. Go to sleep, we can talk more later, now that we know we both want the same thing,” Yuki said, helping his brother to lie down again.
Ayame was out in moments, Yuki made sure he was covered up, and picked up the tray, heading for the kitchen to take care of the dishes. He saw Shigure sitting at the table with a cup of tea and the paper.
“How did it go?” he asked, looking up at the younger man.
“Not bad, we agreed to try to get along, he’s asleep again now,” Yuki said, putting the dishes in the sink and starting the water running.
“That simple, after all this time?” Shigure asked dubiously.
“I doubt it’s going to be that simple really, but he agreed to try to calm down a little bit around me, and I agreed to try not to hold the past against him anymore. We’ll work on it,” Yuki shrugged.
“That will mean a lot to him,” Shigure nodded.
“I know,” Yuki sighed.
Kureno found Akito pouring over the ancient family records, tossing the fragile books aside as he came to the end of each one.
“Can I help, Akito-sama?” he asked cautiously.
“No,” Akito snapped.
“Can I get you anything?”
“No, get out, I’m busy,”
“As you wish, Akito-sama, I will be outside if you need me,” he said.
“Whatever, just go,” Akito snarled.
Akito pulled the next book forward as soon as Kureno was gone again, he knew that the First Alliance was in here somewhere, the term had popped right into his head when Kureno had told him about the snake and the dragon, and he had a vague memory of sitting at the knee of the old caretaker who had ministered to the family after the death of the previous head, until Akito was old enough to take over, feigning interest as the old man droned on about the history of the family and how he would be expected to keep them in line.
“Where is it?” he hissed to himself, tossing the last book aside.
He was sure, so sure that it had been in the old family records. He would have to check his private library, see if he had missed any of the books, and failing that, he would have to check the main house library, to see if any of them had ended up there.
Hatori found Yuki washing up again when he came home that evening.
“Where’s Shigure?” he asked.
“Keeping ‘nii-san company, he’s been asleep most of the day, we got him to eat a little of Honda-san’s broth for lunch, and he just had the last of it about an hour ago. We got him to drink plenty too, when he was awake, he took all his medication on time, and he didn’t need to use in inhalers,” Yuki reported.
“That’s excellent, thank you,” Hatori said, he would ask Shigure if Ayame had needed to get up more, he didn’t think Aaya would have asked Yuki for help if he wanted the bathroom.
Shigure was sitting on the side of the bed, absently stroking a sleeping Ayame’s hair.
“Hey, he just drifted off again, he seems to be much better this evening even than he was this morning,”
“That’s good, how was the dehydration today?”
“Much better, he asked to get up a half a dozen times. Did you have any more trouble from Akito or Kureno today?” Shigure asked.
“No, apparently Akito is obsessing over something called the first alliance or something at the moment. The longer he stays focused on that, the longer Aaya has to get well again, and that’s the best thing right now,” Hatori said, shooing Shigure out of the way so that he could make a fast checkup.
“Well, Yuki and I should get home; I’ll see you tomorrow,”
“Thanks Shigure, that will be great, I’ll say goodnight to him for you if he wakes up again.
“Thank you,” Shigure said, squeezing his shoulder lightly and leaving the room.
Shigure sat in his study, staring thoughtfully at the window as he listened to the creak of the house settling as the rest of its occupants settled down to sleep. Once he was sure that no one was still around, he rose and moved over to the bookcase, carefully moving it forward an inch so that he could get his hand behind it.
He pulled out a canvas wrapped parcel, and went back to his desk, sitting down and opening the canvas; he lifted out the old book that was hidden inside. Opening the cover, he ran his fingers over the ancient pages inside, the fading ink on the page spelling out the words he remembered from the day he had snuck into the private library at the main house.
“The First Alliance,” he whispered, touching the characters on the page.
“I’m not letting you hurt them any more than you already have, Akito, you can never get this back,” he sighed.
It seemed like a waste to do it to such an old and valuable book, but he wasn’t going to risk it falling back into Akito’s hands, not now that Aaya and Hatori had got together. He tore out the first page, crumpling the brittle parchment up and putting it aside. The rest of the pages followed one by one, and once that was done; he shredded the fragile leather of the cover.
Pricking his ears once more to make sure he could hear nothing, he slipped out of the house, and headed to the small incinerator that sat at the bottom of the garden for things they couldn’t risk throwing out with the household rubbish. He threw everything in, and sprayed a little lighter fluid on it, before throwing a match in after it.
It only took moments for the dry old pages and the ancient leather to burn away to ashes; he stirred the embers in with the old ashes and closed the door. He walked away without regret, knowing he had done what he needed to do to protect the most important people in his life.